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Illustration: Caresse Haaser/Axios
From genetic testing to attempts to grow viable eggs from stems cells, researchers are trying to improve the success rate of fertility treatments and cut their cost.
Why it matters: About 9% of men and 11% of women of reproductive age in the U.S. experience fertility problems, resulting in a multibillion dollar industry. The next-generation of fertility treatments has the potential to change who can have children and when but they are still in the early stages of development and have high hurdles to clear.
1. Genetic testing: People are looking to genetics for insights into how likely a fertility treatment is to succeed. Artificial intelligence has been lauded as a possible future tool to augment physicians' decision-making about courses of treatment for people who have repeatedly failed IVF cycles.
2. IVG: Scientists are attempting to take adult human cells and turn them into artificial eggs or sperm in a process called in vitro gametogenesis (IVG).
3. Instead of starting with stem cells, Evelyn Telfer from the University of Edinburgh recently reported isolating immature eggs from the primordial follicles in women's ovaries and activating them to grow into mature eggs in a dish. Theoretically, these would be ready to be fertilized.
This visualization by Axios' Lazaro Gamio shows the 15,723 objects being tracked in low-Earth orbit (LEO) by the U.S. military's Joint Space Operations Center — including nearly 13,000 that are classified as space debris.
"From the astronauts in the International Space Station, to the high definition images of Earth you see on your smart phone, or even the satellites broadcasting your favorite movies into your living room, mitigating the propagation of debris in LEO is vital to the future of all nations' space based capabilities."— Maj. Cody Chiles, spokesman, Joint Force Space Component Command
Why it matters: As space opens up to more nations, companies and possibly nonprofits, concerns are growing about how to track the growing amount of debris. This week, Vice President Mike Pence announced a "comprehensive space traffic management policy" to address the issue.
"The magnitude of the problem is unquantified. We can’t put a solid risk on it [for satellite operators]. But we all know it is only going to get worse."— Moriba Jah, University of Texas at Austin
"There's a lot of ambiguity about what is up there and where it will be an hour from now, tomorrow or next week," says Jah, who's building a database in hopes that it will lead to "[global] rules of the road for good behavior" in space.
The diamond phase (blue), inclusions (yellow), and graphite region in the Almahata Sitta MS-170 meteorite. Colorized image: F. Nabiei et al/EPFL
There may have been dozens of planet-sized rocky bodies orbiting the Sun early in our solar system's existence, according to one hypothesis. Some of these proto-planets collided and merged, and eventually gave rise to the terrestrial planets — Mercury, Venus, Mars and Earth — we see in the inner solar system.
Now, Swiss scientists report pieces of an asteroid that fell onto Sudan's Nubian Desert in 2008 may be remnants of these "lost" planets.
The big picture: If the findings are confirmed by studying the chemical composition of more of these rare meteorites, researchers may learn what ingredients are needed to form a solar system with life-supporting planets like our own.